Human nature has a way of subverting grand ideas, particularly grand liberal ideas like socialism.

Socialism is supposed to foster a sense of community and “we’re in it together” but instead breeds selfishness.

Tens of thousands of French workers took to the streets Thursday for the second day of nationwide strikes this month to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age to 62, with union walkouts crippling planes, trains and schools across the country.

The strikes are seen as a test for the conservative Sarkozy and are being watched elsewhere in Europe, as governments struggle to rein in costs with unpopular austerity measures after the Greek debt crisis scared markets and sapped confidence in the entire 16-nation euro currency.